Managing hurts and disappointments

3 months ago by Dr Kate Shapland

I have been reflecting this week on the many ways that we all manage our past hurts and disappointments. The people who attend this practice are highly motivated to take charge of their health and are proactive in their approach to life. They are holding down stressful jobs, managing busy family lives and generally 'coping well'.  However, I find that in many people with chronic conditions, one can find an element of an emotional trauma that is holding the illness in place and preventing the rapid improvement that one might expect when the correct treatment protocols are in place.

I have seen people in their 60s who report 'a good upbringing' and genuinely, they do not want to make a fuss.  They are not wanting to revisit old emotions and fear that this might take them back to that hurtful time.  These 'hidden' traumas, which may be big or small, are not apparent at first sight, so an open mind is helpful in these situations.  For example, if someone has recurrent migraines, they may have tried various diet, treatment and lifestyle changes and be getting quite frustrated that the symptoms are not settling. One modality that can help here is the Emotional Freedom Technique, which is a gentle technique where one taps on some acupuncture points while using a few simple phrases.  This often exposes some unexpected connections, like a memory where a teacher was mean in first grade.  This would not logically be a connection made with the headache or other symptoms. It is so rewarding to watch seemingly unrelated issues being addressed and the symptoms can be released at a deep level with this technique.  Apart from distressing physical symptoms that sometimes mystify us in their persistence, we also have emotional stresses, and these are often based on our relationship with ourselves and others.

We have 3 Core Emotional needs, and if these are not met when we are small, it can wreak havoc on our emotional and physical health later on.  The best intentioned parents often did not have good parenting themselves and were not able to pass on the care that is required for good health.  These needs are the ability to set good Boundaries, to feel Safe, which requires good co-regulation from our caregivers, and the feeling of being Loved.  In the 1930s, the idea of different Attachment Styles was first developed. There is now a growing body of research that shows that we all develop certain attachment styles depending on our initial experiences.  Approximately 50% of the population have a mainly Secure attachment style and feel quite balanced, whether close or far away from friends and relations.  About 20-30 % of the population is struggling with less optimal attachment styles.  The Anxious attachment style person finds that they need close proximity and reassurance to feel calm.  They can be jealous and overthink things when alone.  The Avoidant attachment style feels safe and calmer when further away in a relationship, and is often perceived as aloof.  The Disorganised attachment style tends to veer between these two extremes, which is exhausting for the person concerned, and all those around them!  In all these situations, it is significant that we now have so many tools so that we can, as adults, learn to self-regulate our nervous system and no longer be at the mercy of our subconscious minds running the show.

It is a joy to work in a practice where people are prepared to take responsibility for their own health. People here are open to new modalities and are prepared to do the inner work. The goal of optimal health is being achieved with the team approach, and this is well worth celebrating.

Happy Healthy Holidays to you all!